Ask Larry

Shouldn't My Family Member Be Able To Draw Spousal Benefits?

A family member filed and suspended in April 2016 which would be prior to the law change. He was a little past his FRA so no issue there. He did this so his wife could claim a spousal benefit at her full retirement age while he is continuing to work and not drawing his benefit. His spouse, just having reached FRA this month, went to SS to file for spousal benefits. She was only given the option of filing on her account, which is minimal as she only worked enough to receive minimum benefits. The SSA told her she could only get a spousal benefit when her husband begins to collect his benefit. They both went to the appt together and don’t understand why she was not entitled to receive 50% spousal benefit.


If the husband in this case filed for and suspended his benefits prior to April 30 2016 and hasn't reinstated them since that time then his wife could draw spousal benefits on his suspended record. If they were told differently by a Social Security representative then they were misinformed.

It sounds like your family member should re-contact Social Security to apply for spousal benefits if she hasn't already done so. Also, if her own retirement benefit rate would amount to more than 50% of her husband's full retirement age rate if she waited until age 70 to apply for her retirement benefits, and if she applied for her retirement benefits at the time of her appointment then she should probably withdraw that application. She could then file just for spousal benefits only at her full retirement age (FRA) and re-apply for her retirement benefits at age 70.

When your family member re-contacts Social Security it may help to point out to them the first NOTE: in section B.1 of the following reference from Social Security's operations manual (POMS):

Best, Jerry

Jul 3 2018 - 7:28am
MaxiFi software running on a laptop
Get What's Yours!
Discover tens of thousands in extra retirement dollars with Maximize My Social Security software!
  • Find your maximized strategy
  • Unlimited what-ifs
  • Step-by-Step filing instructions
  • Our software's lifetime-benefit increase for an illustrative couple earning $65K each and planning to take retirement benefits at 62.

    Results will differ based on your specific case and filing strategy.

Getting Started is Easy
Web-based software. Works on ALL browsers. No download.